Garland rescinds Trump rule that made it harder to investigate police abuse

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Attorney General Merrick Garland rescinded a Trump-era memo that had restricted federal prosecutors' ability to force changes at police departments with widespread abuse and misconduct.  

Attorney General Merrick Garland on Friday rescinded a Trump-era memo that curtailed the use of consent decrees that federal prosecutors have used in sweeping investigations of police departments.

Garland issued a new memorandum to all U.S. attorneys and other Justice Department leaders spelling out the new policies on civil agreements and consent decrees with state and local governments.

The memo eases restrictions placed on the use of consent decrees, allowing Justice Department prosecutors to more easily use the tool, which forces changes at police departments and other government agencies with widespread abuse and misconduct.

The memo in particular rescinds a previous memo issued by then-Attorney General Jeff Sessions shortly before he resigned in November 2018.

The memo comes as the Justice Department shifts its priorities with a focus more on civil rights issues, criminal justice overhauls and policing policies in the wake of nationwide protests over the death of Black Americans at the hands of law enforcement.